The ULTIMATE Diet and Training Program

IMG_0398-0The time has come! You can officially stop looking for the best training and diet program! How exciting is that? No more kooky diet books. No more training and diet gurus. No more false, empty promises. No more cutting out foods that you love. First, let’s look at what pitfalls and traps you may have been falling into…

You decide you want to lose weight so one week you cut out all gluten because you heard that gluten is making you fat. Yes, that must be why you’re overweight. But nothing changes. Next you decide it must be the dairy that’s keeping you overweight, so you cut that out too. But nothing changes. Maybe it’s your workout. You’ve been on this training program for a whole two weeks, BUT NOTHING IS CHANGING! Ugh! The frustration of it all!

You’re looking for an easy way out. You’re looking for the special secret or the magical path. Well, I have the secret… but it’s not sexy and it’s not new.

You’re overcomplicating things.

and

You’re not focusing on consistency in the basics.

So boring, right? Well, yeah, that’s the reality of long-term, sustainable physique changes. It’s slow, it can be miserable, and short-term results can be pretty lackluster. Every day you get up and just put one foot in front of the other, following the basic rules, and one day you wake up and have somehow hit your goal!

There are no miracle foods. There are no miracle supplements. There are no miracle workouts. And yes, while WHAT you eat is important for fat loss, muscle gain, or whatever your goal is, but HOW MUCH you eat is very important too. And you know what? Americans are really, really bad at estimating how many calories they’re eating. Like underestimating-by-40%-bad…

As promised here’s your: Miracle Diet Plan!

  • Start writing down everything you eat in a day. EVERY DAMN THING! (If you’re not seeing results with your current “plan” or lack there of.)
  • If you’re currently eating a lot of processed, packaged, junky food and not seeing results, switch to more nutritious, whole foods. (You should do this regardless of body composition goals…)
  • If you’re currently “eyeballing” your food intake and not seeing results, start using measuring cups or hand measurements.
  • If you’re currently using measuring cups or hand measurements and not seeing results, start using a food scale. (Trust me, it’s a wake up call. Your measuring cups are lying to you…)

And here’s your: Miracle Training Plan!

  • Get up and move.
  • If you’re currently jumping from workout program to workout program and not getting results, choose ONE damn program and STICK TO IT! (Unless your program really does suck…)

These are the basics. I’m not even going to get into what to eat. You generally know what’s healthy. You generally know what’s not healthy. You know you should be eating healthy most of the time and not healthy very little of the time. Now you just have to do it. You know you should be getting exercise, so just get up and move. I don’t care what it is. The key here is to start doing SOMETHING and do it CONSISTENTLY. Eat relatively healthy CONSISTENTLY. Eat according to your goals CONSISTENTLY. Move according to your goals CONSISTENTLY. It really is a simple formula. But just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Being consistent day in and day out is the challenge. Like I said earlier, it’s boring, it’s dull, and results can be slow to come. But isn’t every diet that way after the first week? At first you jump into it with the excitement and fervor of a giddy child, but after the first week or two you’re ready to throw in the towel. This is what separates the successful from the unsuccessful people; their willingness to endure. So don’t make it harder on yourself by religiously cutting out all gluten, dairy, carbs, or whatever your diet guru is telling you (unless you have a real, genuine sensitivity to something.)

*I would like to emphasize that I don’t think calorie counting and weighing or measuring food is necessarily an extremely long-term lifestyle approach. It can become overwhelming and it’s important to learn how to read the natural cues that your body is giving you in terms of hunger and nutrient needs. However, I feel like many have lost that sense of what it feels like to truly be hungry and in NEED of food. Counting and measuring for a while can help reign in your eating habits and can potentially be quite an eye-opener for those who are trying to lose, maintain, or gain weight. BUT a more intuitive approach to eating should be the ultimate goal.*

I hope this was somewhat of a wake-up call for some of you who have a tendency to hop from diet to diet and workout to workout. You’re just never going to see results that way. Find a plan that works for you and that you ENJOY, stick with it, and just keep sticking with it.

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There is No “Wrong” Motivation

It seems lately that a lot of fitness peeps have been spouting out that you shouldn’t let your physique or appearance be your #1 motivation when trying to get in shape. My question is “why the hell not?” It’s not that I’m particularly a VAIN person, but when someone finds something that motivates them to get in some vigorous exercise and start eating healthier on a regular basis, why are physique goals not good enough? In a country where more than 1/3 of adults are considered obese, I think we have to take what we can get! And if the idea of looking hot in a pair of jeans is what gets someone off their ass, then so be it!

Most trainers will say that overall health and general fitness should be your “primary” goal. And yes, while I wholeheartedly agree with that, someone who is slightly overweight might not see it that way. They might be relatively healthy but they just want to finally see their abs or look cute in shorts because they have a vacation coming up. If that’s what keeps you motivated for the time-being, then that’s fine! It’s no one else’s business what your motivation is, whether it’s completely superficial or 100% honorable.

It’s true that you will never find peace and happiness when your appearance is always your #1 goal, because perfection just doesn’t exist…and it’s hard to achieve something that doesn’t exist. But I would also argue that if it’s strength you’re after, where does that stop? One can become so obsessed with getting stronger that they start accruing life-long injuries… One can become so obsessed with “general health” that they start going off the deep end and become an orthorexic. Extremes can occur anyway you look at it. Just because you started with one motivator, doesn’t mean that it will always be your #1 motivator. When something sparks you in the moment to get up and go for a walk or get in a quickie workout, run with it (literally)! Motivation can be hard to find, so when it comes along, take advantage of it. But remember this, the best motivation is the motivation that comes from within. No one else can truly motivate you. Not your significant other, not your trainer, not your friends. Any motivation that stems from them will be short-lived. And that’s okay! Sometimes we have to seek out motivation every day to keep moving forward.

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For example, I haven’t seen my husband since June of 2014. He’s due to be coming home shortly and you better believe I want to look good for him when he arrives! So right now, that’s guiding my motivation to put in an extra ounce of effort. That’s the one little thing that is pushing me to get in a couple conditioning workouts a week (along with my 4 weight training sessions) and really eyeball the food that I’m putting into my mouth. Thankfully I stay pretty close to my “happy spot” year-round, so I never have far to go when I just want to tighten things up a little bit. But this motivation is going to be short-lived. Eventually my husband will come home, we’ll go on a vacation, and then we’ll get back to normal life. That’s when my motivation will change. Maybe I’ll just want to focus on getting a little stronger or improving my endurance. Who knows? We’ll have to see what sparks me at the moment!

Remember, this is a journey with no end. Your goals and motivators will always be fluctuating depending on your situation in life at that one moment. The key to success though is to pick a goal….seriously go for it…conquer it…and move onto the next goal. Don’t flounder from goal to goal, program to program, and never actually accomplish anything! And always remember what got you started on that goal in the first place…that original motivator.

Since I mentioned that I’ll be putting in a little extra effort over the next month, I thought it might be fun to see what that little extra effort might actually do and share it with you all! This photo was taken this morning and I also weighed myself. I was randomly up 3 lbs., probably retaining some water, so here I weigh 143 lbs. I also took circumference measurements, so I’ll be tracking those as well. Along with my 4 weight training workouts, I’ll be throwing in 2 weekly conditioning workouts. So that might be sprints, a barbell complex, a ladder workout, or something of the sort. I will also actually be tracking my macronutrients and calories. Should be fun to see what happens!

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Not-So-Secret Diet Killer: Boredom

There you are…sitting on your magnificent leather couch, getting sucked into another episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills…which just so happens to be a re-run that you have seen 3 times since it originally aired. Your mind starts to wander and drift and you mechanically move yourself from the couch straight to your pantry. “Wait..why am I here?” You ask yourself. “Maybe I’m hungry…? Oooo…Quaker Popped Cheddar Cheese chips…” (Seriously, these things are delicious, ya’ll…) And boom, you find yourself back on the couch mindlessly munching away, dragged into another argument between Kyle and Brandy.

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Does that story sound very vivid and detailed to you? Yes? That’s because it’s a true story and something that even happens to me every now and then. I find myself slipping into this state periodically with my husband being gone. While I’m still very busy, just due to the fact that my husband doesn’t come home at night (he’s deployed at the moment) I have added free time on my hands! And sometimes a girl just needs to veg out.

I believe these habits formed when I was growing up an only child on a quiet street. Building forts alone in the woods wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, so I would spend more time watching television and mindlessly gobbling snacks. Eating filled the boredom gap and was comforting. I wasn’t so extreme that I became obese from this, but I was a little bit…”chubby.” Still to this day, even being a bit of a gym fanatic, these habits can creep up on me. And I know I sure as hell am not the only one this happens to. It’s so common and we’ll joke about it, but really, it’s not a very healthy thing to do, especially if you have fat loss goals. Some people may even go as far as eating the whole pantry! That’s a whole different monster on it’s own called “binging.” I’ve never been at that point but I know many people in the “fitness community” have been there (or still are). This generally stems from other things such as over-restricting food and other issues. But I’m not going to touch that as it’s not my expertise. But eating out of boredom, that’s an animal I can attack.

Here are some of my tricks to prevent myself from falling into this trap:

1. Stay busy: Run errands, do chores, find a hobby, go for a walk, DO SOMETHING. These are my favorite tactics because they’re productive and can actually be fulfilling. Ever notice that when you’re super busy you forget or can’t be bothered to eat?

2. Or do NOTHING: And by this, I really mean GO TO BED! Especially if you’re a nighttime snacker. That’ll take your mind off of food for sure! Plus the extra zzz’s will help you burn more fat and recover from your workouts. Triple whammy!

3. Keep the food in your house ALL THE TIME: If you keep the food in your house all the time, you reduce your sensitivity to it. The more you eat it, the less exciting it becomes. My personal tactic is when I get home from the grocery store, I divide these foods up into single servings in little plastic baggies and treat myself to one baggie each day…unless I find I don’t really want it. This way, if I do go creeping into my pantry I’ll just have one serving and if I want another serving, I really have to think and be mindful. This sure beats eating the entire bag in a single sitting. I usually get my fill of that snack by the time I finish a serving anyways. Anything beyond that is mindless munching…

But if you still just cannot control yourself…

4. Get the food out of your house: If you try step 3 and that doesn’t work, you might want to keep it out of the house for a while and completely break the habit. I used to be that way about peanut butter. I could seriously sit and nibble on a jar of peanut butter for an hour. I had to stop buying it as it was getting a little out of control. Thankfully, I’ve come a long way since then and a single jar of nut butter will last me several weeks.

I have to admit that I don’t have it all figured out, but I sure have experimented with a lot of tactics to get me to where I am now. These tips have definitely helped me in the past (and even today). But I think it’s important for everyone to understand that it’s not just fat loss that is the challenge… Once you get to a point where you are happy and don’t feel the need to alter your body dramatically, where are you going to pull your motivation from? Maintenance can be just as difficult as fat loss. Every day can still be a challenge. There are always choices to be made about the food you put in your mouth and choosing the healthy more moderate way of eating is not always the easiest. You might always need some little tricks in your toolbag to get you through. Hope these help you as much as they have helped me!

 

6 Ways to Measure Progress

evilscaleMany women (and men too!) simply resort to the scale to tell them if they’re making progress with their fat loss goals. While the scale can be good measurement of progress, it’s not the ONLY or even the BEST way to measure progress. So here’s a little countdown of the many ways you can measure to see if you’re making progress with your diet and training.

6. Scale – As previously mentioned, the scale can actually be a good way to measure progress, but it’s not necessarily the best way to measure progress. It’s only one measurement and the number is kind of…well…not indicative of how much fat you have lost or haven’t lost. The scale is taking evvvverything into account when it spits out that one number at you. Your fat, your muscle, water, food, intestines, bones, hair, EVERYTHING!!! Yet, if the number changes you tend to get really excited or really depressed depending on what direction the number went. My advice? If the number on the scale has a tendency to bring your mood down, stay away from it. If the number doesn’t really affect your mood, then weigh yourself as much as you’d like!

5. Body Fat Testing – This can be done in many ways, some being much more accurate than others. Calipers (kind of iffy), bioelectric impedance analysis (handheld devices or scales that “tell you your body fat”…also very iffy), hydrostatic weighing (essentially you’re dunked in water…very accurate but also very impractical), and DEXA scan (also very accurate but very expensive and impractical). So as you can see, the ways that you have easy access to aren’t very accurate, so I kind of figure “what’s the point?”

4. Circumference Measurements – When using this method you take a fabric measuring tape and measure the circumference of certain areas around your body. Your waist, arms, chest, thighs, calves, hips, whatever you’re interested in measuring. I actually like this method a lot as it can tell you a lot more than the scale can. You can see where you might be losing fat…and where you might be GAINING muscle! Which is important too, right? RIGHT!?

3. How are your clothes fitting? – Sometimes seeing how our clothes fit can be the best and easiest way of measuring progress. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had clients say “ohhh, I’ve put on a few pounds, but you know what? My clothes are fitting better.” Oh, how interesting! Just because you put on a few pounds doesn’t mean it’s fat.

2. How do you look in the mirror? – Isn’t this what’s really the most important to you? Do you really care how much you weigh as long as you look better than you once did? Do you really care how much you weigh if your clothes are now 2 sizes smaller? If you’re in this game for physique changes, then weight really doesn’t matter. What matters is that you like what you’re seeing in the mirror. Taking progress photos is a great way to measure these changes from month to month.

And most importantly….

1. Where’s Your Head At? – When someone has been weight training for a while, eventually there’s this transition that happens in their mind. They start enjoying the process regardless of the physique progress. They have pride in themselves because they can finally bang out a few pull-ups. They have pride in themselves because they can deadlift twice their body weight. They have pride in themselves because daily tasks have all of a sudden become a hundred times easier…simply because they’re stronger, healthier, more confident, and ultimately happier. That’s the real measurement of progress. The rest will just fall into place.

Trust me. Trust the process. It’s definitely a journey, but I hope some day you get to #1.

They Called Us “Spartans”

Imagine this: a young couple living in a major metropolitan area. At least 5 days a week they would rise at 4:45 AM, drink their black coffee, and be at the gym by 5:30 AM. Their training sessions would then ensue and they would rush back home by 6:30. The woman in this relationship would then rush to wash her hair (DAILY), eat breakfast, slap on makeup, try to dress her best, pack her 3 meals (out of her daily 6), and leave for work by 8 while her fiance’ spent 2 hours of his morning commuting to school.

For 3 years this was their lifestyle. Weekends were for catching up with cleaning and errands. Periodic fun was to be had…. Sometimes there were evening galas or dinners in the city… But the clock was always ticking and training and diet were always on the brain.

Their friends admired them. They called them “Spartans” because of their discipline. But golly….what a busy life!

If you haven’t figured it out by now, this couple is my husband and I when we lived in New York. It was a hectic time and a stressful time, especially for me. What a relief it was when we moved and it ended. Admittedly, we continued carrying on a relatively strict regimen when we moved to London, but the level of pressure was greatly reduced. The lengthy commutes were over. Our free time had increased. And we were finally given the time and inner peace that allowed us to enjoy living in an amazing city. Due to the fact that we had a tiny fridge and kitchen, I stopped bulk cooking on Sundays and food prep became a thing of the past. (Woo hoo! I always hated that…)

Ever since then our feelings towards diet and training have softened. Longevity and moderation are bigger concerns now that we are in our 30s. Our maturity has helped us realize what’s important in life and what’s not. These days, having the ability to enjoy a few glasses of wine on the weekends is more important to me than paper-thin skin stretched over a chiseled 6-pack. Training is more fun when you’re not only concerned with how it will make you look, but when you’re concerned about whether it’s bringing you joy and making you feel good. Of course, I still enjoy the physique benefits, but they’re no longer the only benefits. I train in a way that I enjoy.

One of my new rules in life is “Don’t do things you hate.” Life is short. If I were on my deathbed tomorrow I sure as hell won’t be saying “damn, I wish I went for that 10 mile run yesterday.” I hate running. I really do. So I don’t do it. And that’s okay because it doesn’t match my goals anyways!

See?

I Hate Running

But I wonder if it might have been necessary for us to go through that strict phase, for if we hadn’t we might not be where we are now, both physically and mentally. It seems that when most people start living a “healthy lifestyle,” they go all in, only coming to the conclusion later on that a more moderate approach could get you to the same place with a lot less stress and worry.

These days I’m trying to help other women avoid that trap of getting sucked into a crazy strict diet and training routine that potentially results in some yo-yo-ing of weight or lifestyle. You really don’t need to get that maniacal about it to see results! Trust me! (Well, unless you need those chiseled, 6-pack abs…and you need them NOW. Well, that might take some extra effort on your part.)

And don’t worry, I no longer wash my hair DAILY. It’s more of a 2-3 days per week type of thing now. (Please don’t confuse that with showering. That is done on a daily basis, thank you very much!)

Anyways, if you are interested in getting stronger, hotter, and overall healthier, but are a bit lost and don’t know how to get started, I’m here for you, girl! I remember that zone well and I was lucky that my husband (fiance’ at the time) could kind of show me the ropes. But I’ve followed all sorts of diets and training programs and I’ve had some online trainers along the way giving me guidance, so I’ve certainly gained some experience and insight through the years. If you want to bypass most of the trial and error and would like to work with me long distance, please do not hesitate to contact me. I currently offer 100% individualized programs catered to you, moderate diet coaching, and for those who like getting a little bit neurotic and nitty gritty with numbers, actual diet plans.

It’s the Holidays and You’re On a Diet. Now what?

So it’s the holidays and you’ve been dieting your little butt off (literally) up until now. How do you handle this time of year without reversing all of your hard work? Over the last few months while working with my coach, I have reeeally learned about balance and what that really means when you’re trying to live a fit and lean life. I’m going to share with you a few tips that you may not have heard and a little bit of what I have learned myself.

1. Enjoy your holidays! Don’t you daaaare bring your tupperware filled with chicken and brown rice to your one and only Christmas dinner with your family. Especially if you’re not preparing for some competition or photo shoot. Christmas only comes once a year and when you’re 97 and lying on your deathbed, do you want to look back at your life and think “I really should have had that slice of pecan pie on Christmas of 2013…” No. I didn’t think so.

2. But reign it in. If you overindulge at 2-3 holiday parties a week during the month of December and you’re stuffing your face with Christmas cookies at home, you’re going to have to expect a little bit of a reversal in your progress. I’m not saying that overindulging during the holidays is “bad” per se’, but it’s not going to help you move forward with your progress. My tip: choose one or two events to really indulge in and keep your diet tight for the rest of the month. Eat a big meal before you head to your party. Once there, if you’re still hungry, stick to the proteins and veggies, go light on the alcohol (especially that spiked Eggnog!), and avert your eyes from the desserts. Okay, maybe just one….a little one…. But most importantly, remember why you’re at the event. You’re there to share in the holidays with friends and family, not just to pig out on goodies.

3. Don’t be so restrictive! My current diet is actually pretty high in calories and outside of my normal amount of protein, I’m also eating a lot of carbs and fats. I truly think this is helping to keep any cravings at bay and I’m not quite as tempted to indulge in Christmas goodies. If you feel deprived on a regular basis then you might feel tempted to cheat on a regular basis. Design your normal diet around foods you enjoy. This way, when you see that yummy plate of stuffing you don’t get TOO excited about it and just allow yourself one normal serving.

Don't Be a Little Piggy.

Don’t Be a Little Piggy.

4. Weigh yourself. I’m not generally a strong proponent of weighing yourself frequently, but I think that during the holidays a scale can be a good tool to help keep you in check. If you’re weighing yourself regularly and you see that your weight is beginning to creep up and it’s staying up, then it might be time to get your diet a little more under control. Just sayin’…

5. Don’t let one holiday meal creep into the next day…and the day after that…and the day after that… This part can be the hardest. You think you’re doing good. You have fun on Thanksgiving or Christmas and then say to yourself “Well, that was that! And I’m satisfied!” But then…the next day…there are leftovers gazing back at you from the fridge. There’s half a pie sitting on your kitchen counter covered simply by a sheet of aluminum foil, which can easily be shifted away. So you say “meh, a little sliver of pie won’t hurt anyone!” And you cut yourself a little piece. Then for lunch you might think “oh, well, I’ll just substitute my baked sweet potatoes for stuffing! And then I’ll have a little cranberry sauce on the side…oh, and some mashed potatoes too..don’t want them to go bad and all!” This is an example of one fun meal slipping into the next day and possibly the day after that. The ideal plan is to enjoy yourself on Christmas, even if it’s an all day smorgasbord! But the next day, just hop back on your normal diet or plan. I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s for the best. Trust me.

So I hope those tips help. I have to remind myself of these things too. I really love food. I love it a lot. But as a relatively small person, I only get to eat so much of it. Especially if it’s really dense in calories. That’s the luck of the draw, I guess. Good luck to those of you trying to get through these holidays without packing on the pounds! It’s a minefield out there this time of year!

A Lesson on Maintenance

under-maintenanceYa’ll….I have been in “maintenance mode” for 6 weeks now and you know what? It’s working! I don’t remember the last time I ate this many calories on purpose for such a long period of time. It’s awesome. The feeling of being full after every meal feels so good! And I haven’t gained any weight! I haven’t lost any either…but that’s the freakin’ point! I honestly was just kind of stuck in a rut and didn’t know what my goals should be at the time and then I became an LBC client and that decision was lifted off my shoulders. It has been absolutely wonderful not having to worry about my own diet and training.

If you are feeling similarly to how I was (stuck in a rut, tired, not seeing progress), bring those calories on up! Your body needs a break. It’s not meant to be in a deficit for so long and it’s just generally not healthy. You’re not going to progress that way! From someone who was afraid to raise their calories to someone else who might be afraid to raise their calories, just do it. Do yourself a favor. Enjoy the influx of food. Enjoy different varieties of food. And enjoy the strength gains, awesome pumps, and renewed energy!

From my experience, here are some tips on going into maintenance mode. Hopefully these will help some of you guys out.

1. What should you set your calories at? If you have no idea what your maintenance calories are, a general rule of thumb (if you’re relatively active) is to take your current weight x 15 and that number will be your starting calorie level.  When I first started eating this way my belly was a little bloated from all the food, but that subsided. No, my abs aren’t chiseled at the moment but I’m killing my workouts and feeling really strong and healthy right now. It’s important to keep your calories at that level for a while to let your body reset. I can tell that my body is “resetting” itself now because I’m still hungry after my hyoooge meals. When I first started eating this way I was stuffed after each meal, but then my body adjusted and I started getting hungrier between meals. You know what happened then? My coach upped my calories a little more! Ha!

2. Should you raise them all at once or go slow? If you’re a little scared about increasing your calories you can raise them slowly, but I just dived in and raised them in one go and didn’t balloon up. Now, I think if you’ve been eating very very very few calories for a very very very long period of time coupled with a lot of training and cardio, you might want to increase your calories much slower because your metabolism will be so slow that it just won’t be able to burn up the extra calories you’re feeding it. You’ll gradually need to stoke it by slowly increasing your calories week by week. But that’s just my 2 cents. My calories weren’t THAT low to begin with, so I didn’t have to make such a big jump and my metabolism caught up quickly. (Hallelujah!)

3. You CAN’T go crazy and eat anything and everything in plain sight. One thing to note about a maintenance phase is that it CAN be almost as hard as a fat loss phase. I told my husband one day that I was about to start my fat loss diet and he asked me “I thought you were already dieting!?” Just like in a fat loss phase, I’ve been very diligent about measuring and weighing out my foods and following a pretty regimented diet. Yes, you can be a little more lenient about having a treat here and there than you can be during a fat loss diet, but if you go too overboard you might start gaining weight. Weighing yourself regularly (that is, if it doesn’t freak you out) can help you keep it all in check. I don’t care WHAT the number on the scale is, I just don’t necessarily want it to fluctuate too much if that’s not my goal.

Like I said, I’m about to start my fat loss phase and I know it’s going to be a challenge, but I’m hoping that because I’ve been here at maintenance for a while my metabolism just might be primed and ready for it. We’ll see!